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Review: Sensual energy crackles in Alvin Ailey dance program

A second show features sly, lively works by Kyle Abraham and Jiri Kylian.

April 19, 2013|By Victoria Looseleaf

If Edward Hopper's painting "Nighthawks" had been set in a splashy speak-easy, it might have come to life as Kyle Abraham's ebullient work "Another Night."

One of four pieces performed by Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater on Thursday during its five-day run at the Music Center, this study in controlled freneticism was a mashing of sexual energy, amped-up Lindy Hopping and jitterbugging, and rampant athleticism.

Set to Dizzy Gillespie's enticing "A Night In Tunisia," this 2012 work for 10 dancers — Abraham's first Ailey commission — was led by the powerhouse duo of Jacqueline Green and Jamar Roberts. Slinky hips, mile-high extensions and bravura balancing feats punctuated the dance, which also featured Renaldo Gardner soloing with a bag of Cheetos.

FULL COVERAGE: 2013 Spring arts preview

Perhaps nothing says sex like Ji¿í Kylián's 1991 "Petite Mort," a French euphemism for "orgasm." New to the Ailey troupe last year, this suite of duets featured six couples and six fencing foils, swashbuckling warriors (imagine a cadre of bare-legged, flexed-footed Errol Flynns) and seductive angels tangling to Mozart piano adagios.

Suffused in Joop Caboort's shimmering gold lighting and clad in Joke Visser's witty costumes of Baroque ball gowns (on wheeled platforms) and neo-corsets, the dancers were ardor animated.

Sculptural poses, über-arched backs and entwining limbs marked this kinky battle of the sexes. Veering from decorum to decadence, the work proved a potent fit for the troupe, and a mesmerizing Alicia Graf Mack and swoon-worthy Roberts were an eminently watchable couple.

"Strange Humors," a male duet from 1998 choreographed by Robert Battle, Ailey artistic director since 2011, was set to John Mackey's violin/percussion-driven score. Shirtless and in pink jeans, Michael Francis McBride and Gardner executed twitchy leaps, backward falls and faux screams, often in unison, in this short, fussy and ultimately minor work, ripped torsos aside.

Completing the program, as for years it has completed so many: Ailey's 1960 masterpiece, "Revelations," which is a stunner still.

calendar@latimes.com

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater

Where: Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 135 N. Grand Ave., Los Angeles

When: "21st Century Ailey," 2 p.m. Sunday. Two different programs are also offered: "Classic Ailey," 2 p.m. Saturday, and "Ailey Spirit," 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets: $28 to $110

Information: (213) 972-0711 or http://www.musiccenter.org

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